On Jan. 9, 2023, the Clarendon County Council had their regularly scheduled meeting. The meeting began by welcoming new Council member Pat Coker who is replacing Benton Blakely.
The agenda was approved. Minutes were approved for both the regular meeting in December and the special called meeting in December.
David Epperson then announced service awards starting with Christopher Jones. Jones was recognized for five years of service with the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Department. He received a certificate and a five-year pen. DeShaun McFadden was recognized next for five years with the Sheriffs Department. He also received a certificate and five-year pen.
The third service award was Harold Morris for ten years as Chief Deputy with the Sheriff’s Department. He received a certificate and ten-year pen. Last was Terrance Levy, also a ten-year deputy with the Sheriff’s Department, receiving a certificate and ten-year pen.
Chairman Stewart then asked Senator Johnson to make some remarks during public comment. Senator Johnson wanted to send his regrets for being unable to attend the public swearing in and wanted to congratulate the chairmen that were reelected and congratulate and welcome Chairman Coker. Senator Johnson also went on to say that he felt Council was doing a great job for the citizens of the county and wanted to let council know that as always, if he can ever be of any assistance to let him know.
Hodge then approached the podium during the public comment session. Hodge asked about the $75,000 in Hospitality Tax Funding to host the Bassmaster Elite Series Event and expressed concern about the spending that council has approved. Hodge felt that council should reign in “the unnecessary spending, and look for the wasteful spending in departments that aren’t doing the people justice.”
Hodge said, “You all have raised the taxes on us so much it is killing us. You all are spending money out the ying yang. Vote no, no, no on the $75,000 tonight.”
Epperson responded to Hodge, explaining that the $75,000 is a request for Hospitality Funds, not General Administration funds.
Epperson said, “Investing $75,000 in that event will bring more revenue to the county in other forms, such as taxes through hospitality and accommodation taxes, people staying in our hotels and eating at our restaurants, and purchasing items at different businesses in the county."
Next was the Board Appointment of Anthony Keith Grice to the Clarendon County Behavioral and Health Services Board. The will of the council was for the appointment, and all were in favor.
Jessie Surette, Director of Tourism, then gave his presentation on the $75,000 request for the Bassmaster’s Elite Series Event. Surette began by thanking council and re-introducing himself. Surette explained and proved with several documents how this event will impact the county and possibly generate an economic impact for the county of up to one million dollars. The Bassmaster Event brings many people to the county, in person and virtually.
The will of the council was to approved and all were in favor.
Holly Cockfield, Director of Clarendon County Library, gave an update on the library. The library has over ten thousand active card holders. It is the only place in the county serving as a SC Works location. Last fiscal year, the library had over 25,000 physical visits and so far this fiscal year, they have had 15,000 physical visits. The focus of the library this year is to increase outreach and strengthen community partnership. The library is fine free and also hosts many programs. The plan for the future is also to add a drive through, increasing accessibility for members of the community.
Next on the agenda was a request of consideration to review the compensation and wages of Clarendon County Elected Officials. Sheriff Time Baxley spoke on this request. Sheriff Baxley thanked council for the salary study that was done and acknowledged how important the work the Council has done for the County employees. He especially acknowledged deputies who work hard and put their lives on the line daily and have been underpaid in the past. The situation this now poses is some elected officials having employees that will now make more than them, as elected officials have had no new compensation in many years. The council voted to review the wages and compensation of elected officials.
The next council meeting will be held in February.
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